Teslin Mayor Gord Curran is the new president of the Association of Yukon Communities.
The organization, which represents municipal councils around the territory, announced Curan’s new role in a May 12 statement that also highlighted the election of other executive members to the board.
Whitehorse councillor Jan Stick was elected to the role of first vice president, Mayo Mayor Scott Bolton was elected as second vice president and Carmacks councillor Tara Wheeler, who finished up her term as AYC president, moved into the role of past president.
The organization holds an election every two years for its board at its annual general meeting and conference that’s held in a different Yukon community the second weekend in May.
While this year’s conference, which had been scheduled for Haines Junction, was cancelled due to COVID-19, the annual general meeting was held virtually.
In a statement, Curran emphasized the importance of working on municipal issues with the territory right now.
“During this unprecedented and challenging time, the Association of Yukon Communities must continue to work closely with the Government of Yukon to develop immediate and longer-term strategies to protect and continue to help grow communities in the Yukon sustainably,” he said. “AYC has a solid foundation, an outstanding and diverse executive, and dedicated staff that will enable us to meet the challenges ahead.”
In a May 14 interview, Curran said it will likely be the long-term impacts of COVID-19 that determine the priorities for AYC in the coming year.
“That’s going to drive the agenda,” he said.
While he said there’s a number of short-term measures that have been put in place to address impacts of the pandemic — initiatives like relief programs for those impacted financially and the extension for property taxes to be paid until September before penalties and late fees are applied — the long-term impacts are still not known and municipalities are keeping a close eye on the situation.
It will be important for municipalities, First Nations and the territory to work together and remain in communication as the long-term impacts are felt and actions need to be taken, he said.
As AYC president, Curran said he plans to work on building on an existing strong relationship with the Yukon government, which he noted has been in continual contact with municipalities on various issues throughout the pandemic.
He said part of the effort to build on the relationship with the territory will come in working to gain a better understanding of AYC’s membership and improving advocacy for the organization.
Curran also noted the COVID-19 situation is providing some learning opportunities, including in hosting the AGM online.
While there are many benefits to in-person meetings, Curran explained having to move online for the AGM, though not ideal, showed that there’s efficiencies that could come with technology use for some things like board meetings.
He noted there’s a long list of other lessons that will likely come from the pandemic situation.
Curran has served in various roles on the AYC executive for a number of years and said he felt it was time to step into the role of president.
“It is an honour to be elected as president by our membership, especially during this time,” he said. “I appreciate being entrusted to lead the organization for the next two years.”
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